Though the days were getting shorter a nervous bubbly feeling seemed to paint everything with brighter colors these last few days.  It was the subtle changes that were working their way into everything the first red leaves in the front tree, the cool evenings, and misty mornings; Fall was about drop right into everyone’s lap.  Sitting on the porch rocking gently he watched while a good storm worked its way by bringing flashes of lightning, a course of thunder claps, and the slap of rain drops on cement.  So what if this neighborhood wasn’t one of the priciest in town autumn was on its way and the riot of colors that preceded the cold of winter was not confined to the gated communities or the heirloom houses it would even venture across the Windy creek to this stoop.  Gently shutting his eyes he could almost imagine it what it would be like to live on a pumpkin farm or an apple orchard where life shined through everything, these were two of his most secret thoughts.  Which meant that he had never shared them with the guys he ran around with, who only thought of football or Halloween candy as the bracing weather started in, for fear of becoming the butt of any and all jokes.  However, try as he might he never filled with adrenaline while the timer ran out on the stadium’s scoreboard.  The maze was a different story altogether though, he positively danced with excitement at the thought of going out and working the corn maze all those chilly October nights.  A slammed car door to his left broke his retrieve.

In the gray drizzle he had trouble making out the silhouette of the woman who had exited on the driver’s side.  While trying to pierce the building gloom he grew anxious feeling out-of-place sitting on his own.  It finally dawned on him that it was his mother’s approach he was watching so closely and suddenly looked down as if he could not bear the sight of her or the rust colored mums she was carrying.  It was as if the sound had gone out of everything as he stopped rocking and held his breath.  She walked up the steps and crossed the porch to the door.  He stood and lunged for her free hand and in that moment it came back; the spiced scent of her fresh-baked pumpkin pie, the taste of ice-cold apple cider, her laugh which had colored all of his childhood memories.  Slowly she smiled and turned towards the lone chair which creaked back and forth from his hasty departure.

“I missed you,” he whispered so softly it was carried away by the wind which already held the rustling of leaves.

Her smile faltered for a second before returning slightly strained “I love you too.”

Tears stood in her eyes as she turned and entered the house where she walked over to the tiny picture window and set down the mums adjusting the curtains so that they could easily be seen from the porch or the street.  She watched the rocking chair her hand outstretched but not quite touching the glass.

Outside he sat back down and returned to rocking his eyes locked onto the sassafras tree at the end of the road which was doing its best to out do the red maple two houses down, and thought now I wait for the pumpkins and hay bales.

Inside she straitened the tiny card form the florist’s which read:

For Riley, never forgotten always missed.

Silently she left the window and walked through the nearest doorway.

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